Last week I lifted a few weights at the gym. It reminded me why I had not been lifting weights; my arms get sore! I hate the ache that follows. I confess that I am by nature a couch-potato. Most likely my last breath in this life will be taken while on a couch somewhere. So, as I was lifting a few weights, I kept reminding myself that there is no strength without struggle.
As it has been said, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” Strength does not come from what you can do; it comes from doing what you can’t do. I believe this is true for all of life; including the struggle of living well in spite of having a mood disorder.
Even the beautiful butterfly must struggle to leave its cocoon; if it does not, its wings will not be strong enough to fly.
You and I both know that there are struggles with managing this “thing” they call mental illness. And there are days when you and I might feel that the struggle is not bringing strength but weakness. But I believe, without even knowing you personally, that you are becoming stronger day by day in the pursuit of living a full and rich life in spite of the struggle. In fact, I believe that those of us who have a mental health challenge in our lives are some of the strongest people around. Yes, that includes you!
Let’s be honest. Anyone can lift weights for an hour a day, but to manage the other 23 hours with a brain that does not always cooperate…that’s a struggle that brings real strength. As strange as it may sound, I am thankful for my struggles with bipolar disorder. I have had and at times continue to have struggles overcoming daily a brain that does not always work right, even with the medicine. The struggles have brought me to a point of strength emotionally and spiritually. It has developed my character and my sense of humor. My struggles have introduced me to who I am and who I am becoming.
Maybe you didn’t know it, but you are a strong mental health hero!